WHO: No masks for grade Zeros. AS schools re-open in Zimbabwe, parents and guardians are scrambling for masks for children as part of efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. Schools, mainly private, have already sent out circulars stating the requirements for children as they report to their respective institutions.
Top of the list is the facemask.
The World Health Organisation has its recommendations on the wearing of masks at school and, one that stands out is that Grade Zero pupils are NOT supposed to wear masks.
QUESTION: Does WHO recommend staff and children to wear masks at school? And if yes, what type of masks?
ANSWER: In countries or areas where there is intense community transmission of Covid-19 and in settings where physical distancing cannot be achieved, the following criteria for use of masks in schools are recommended: Children aged 5 years and under SHOULD NOT be required to wear masks.
For children between six and 11 years of age, a risk-based approach should be applied to the decision to use a mask, considering: the intensity of transmission in the area where the child is and evidence on the risk of infection and transmission in this age group.
beliefs, customs and behaviours. the child’s capacity to comply with the correct use of masks and availability of adult supervision. the potential impact of mask-wearing on learning and development.
additional considerations such as sports activities or for children with disabilities or underlying diseases. Children and adolescents 12 years or older should follow the national mask guidelines for adults.
Teacher and support staff may be required to wear masks when they cannot guarantee at least a 1-metre distance from others or there is widespread transmission in the area.
Types of mask:
Fabric masks are recommended to prevent onward transmission in the general population in public areas, particularly where distancing is not possible, and in areas of community transmission. This could include the school grounds in some situations. Masks may help to protect others, because wearers may be infected before symptoms of illness appear.
The policy on wearing a mask or face covering should be in line with national or local guidelines. Where used, masks should be worn, cared for and disposed of properly. The use of masks by children and adolescents in schools should only be considered as one part of a strategy to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Source – H-Metro
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